Bonus Book Review: “King Con: The Bizarre Adventures of the Jazz Age’s Greatest Impostor” by Paul Willets

Here’s another book review from my First to Read list, but if you’re an avid reader and love true crime or biographies, this book is excellent. King Con: The Bizarre Adventures of the Jazz Age’s Greatest Impostor by Paul Willetts is due to be published on August 7, 2018 but you can pre-order it now. It’s the story of Edgar Laplante who was born in the late 1800’s Rhode Island to white Anglo Saxon parents, who’s troubled childhood eventually landed him in a reform school, but did nothing to reform a man who would go on to be one of the greatest con men in the world!

Author Paul Willetts starts Edgar’s story in 1916, when Edgar is in his mid-30’s and living in California, but Willetts occasionally finds the opportunity to flashback to Edgar’s early years to help explain how he was to become one of the greatest con men in the world. And when I say world, I mean, America, Canada and Europe. After a long stint of traveling, singing and speaking across the U.S. claiming he was the famous Canadian Iroquois Indian athlete Thomas Longboat, Edgar would adopt the persona of Chief White Elk. As the Chief, he toured the U.S., Canada and eventually Europe, conning the unsuspecting out of money he claimed was going to go to American Indian causes in America, but instead was lining his pockets and paying for his extravagant lifestyle and drug & alcohol addiction. Along the way, Edgar would not only con two women into marrying him (one of which was half native American and one British), he would dupe two European contessas out of their fortune.

I couldn’t put this book down. Edgar Laplante’s life is so far out that you actually start to feel like the author must be making this all up and you’re falling for a con story yourself by believing that any one man could pull of what Mr. Laplante did. It’s an incredibly fascinating story that makes one wonder if someone could pull this off today with the technology and fast paced world we live in now? Oh, and if you need a Beatles connection, Chief White Elk did spend some time in Liverpool and stayed at the Adelphi Hotel. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Bonus Book Review: “Rock Critic Law: 101 Unbreakable Rules for Writing Badly About Music” by Michael Azerrad

Rock Critic Law Michael AzerradRock Critic Law: 101 Unbreakable Rules for Writing Badly About Music by Michael Azerrad is another book I got from Harper-Collins over three months ago. The copy I got is an unedited proof and according to the letter I got with it, this book won’t be released until October 18, 2018 (Amazon says the release date is December 15th). I’m not sure why they sent it out so early. I wrote to them in May and asked if it was okay to post a review, but they said they would prefer if I hold off until the month before publication (it is available for pre-order on Amazon). And so, this book has remained on the end table in my living room collecting dust for months and at this point, I just need to move it to the bookshelf. I’m going to defend this early review by saying that this book already has 5 reviews on GoodReads.com!

Author Michael Azerrad has written for most of the major music publications: Spin, Rolling Stone, Revolver, Mojo, etc.. He’s also the author of Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana and Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991. Several years ago, he started a Twitter feed under the name @RockCriticLaw and he set about making up ridiculous, yet profound, rules for anyone who reviews rock music.

For obvious reasons, I found this topic intriguing since no one had ever told me that there are rules for what I’ve been putting out on my blog for the last nine years. I’ll start by saying that the Introduction to this book may have more words than the 101 rules themselves. The rules are taken from Azerrad’s Twitter feed and some were even contributed by Twitter followers. Here are some of the rules:

All fan bases are either “devoted,” “dedicated,” or “loyal.”

Bass players are the only musicians that can be “nimble.”

If there are three or more bowed instruments on a track, then you MUST note the “lush orchestration.”

It doesn’t take long to breeze through these rules even with their comic illustrations on the facing pages to add to the humor behind each one. It’s disappointing that the book ends so quickly and makes me wonder if Azerrad should have held out until he could have made a “500 rules…” book to give the reader more bang for their buck, since the book retails for $23.99 and takes less than 30 minutes to read. And even though I was amused by it and got it for free, I probably won’t be keeping this book around to reread or use as a reference guide for my future reviews. It might just be easier to follow him on Twitter. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Flower Power Fatality” by Sally Carpenter

Flower Power Fatality Psychodelic Spy Mystery Sally CarpenterFlower Power Fatality: A Psychedelic Spy Mystery is the third book I’ve read by Sally Carpenter and reviewed on this blog. Sandy writes the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series of mysteries and now she’s branched out with a new series. She’s a huge Beatles fan and whenever possible, she’ll mention them in her books. In fact, her first novel, The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper is about a mysterious murder at a Beatles convention.

Flower Power Fatality is based in 1967. The lead character Noelle McNabb finds herself knee deep in helping to solve the mysterious murder of a man who knocks at her door on a cold rainy night and falls to her floor from a gunshot wound when she answers. It isn’t long before a secret spy organization shows up looking for information about the dead man that she doesn’t have. Or does she?

I love the way Sally can write a great story that’s so easy to sit back and relax to. These are the books that are true beach books or books for when you just need to escape into another world. There’s not a lot of gore, swearing, sex or nudity. Just simply good writing in a whodunit. Throughout this book, she names some of the chapters after Beatles songs and at least twice, the Beatles are mentioned, whether it’s Noelle putting their album on her turntable to chill out to or some other small incident. No matter where you go, there’s always room for more Beatles. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Bonus Book Review: “Pop Charts: 100 Iconic Song Lyrics Visualized” by Katrina McHugh

Pop Charts: 100 Iconic Song Lyrics VisualizedI love when I unsolicitedly get on a publisher’s mailing list to receive review copies of books.

Pop Charts: 100 Iconic Song Lyrics Visualized by Katrina McHugh showed up on my doorstep last week from Harper-Collins. As I was deep into another book, it took a day or two to pick up, but what a fun book it is! This 7.5″ x 7.3″ books is 216 pages of pictorial descriptions of lyrics from popular song from the sixties to present day with the answers on the back of each picture page. And yes, there is a Beatles song and a Lennon song contained in this visual version of Name That Tune.

Some of these songs are going to jump right off the page at you, while others are going to leave you stumped (I admit to not knowing anything about Beyonce’s lyrics). I handed the book to my 28 year old son and his girlfriend to look at and was surprised when they got lost in it’s pages trying to figure out the images. If I could express one issue about this book, it’s that I wish the pictures were in deeper colors instead of the washed out pale images. I’ve uploaded 3 of the pages below for my readers to look at and see for themselves. I put black borders around them because they got washed out even more on this page. Still, this is a fun book to have or to gift to a friend who’s a music freak. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Tune In: The Beatles – All These Years” by Mark Lewisohn

Tune In The Beatles All These Years Mark LewisohnPublished in 2013, Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years comes in at a whooping 932 pages (803 without the bibliography and index). One would think that’s a lot of pages for the first of three books that author Mark Lewisohn has planned for this series, until you realize that Tune In: The Beatles – All These Years – Unedited/Extended Special Edition has 1728 pages! So…why did I wait so long to read this book? Well, over the past 5 years I’ve probably said at least 5 times, “I will never read that book. It’s just too long!” And what changed my mind? Well, it was you, dear readers. The guilt of not posting anything of real substance over the past several months finally made me take this book down from my bookshelf.

I thought I could sit down and read the entire book in a weekend, but it proved to be just too much information coming at me all at once. And even though I’ve read dozens of books about the Fab Four, Mark Lewisohn’s in-depth research left me with so many more questions that I actually wonder if I should pick up the unedited edition some day. Eegads folks…what kind of introverted, anti-social monster has he turned me into? So many details and yet so much more to learn, Lewisohn turns his readers into Fab Four junkies before hitting the halfway mark in this book. The Beatles are my sugar of choice and Mark Lewisohn is my candy man!

One thing about the book that left me scratching my head, though, was that throughout, Lewisohn goes into great detail to describe pictures that were taken during the early stages of the Beatles career, yet these pictures are not contained within the book. Some of them are, but the majority is not. Whether or not they’re in the extended edition, I don’t know. Hopefully, one of my readers can enlighten me on that fact. Also, the author really did his homework when it comes to the women that John, Paul, George, Pete and Ringo dated in their pre-fame days, mentioning so many of them by name and even providing details and quotes from them. Yet, Cynthia Powell seems to not be as prominent even though by the end of the book she’s 4 months pregnant and living with John’s aunt Mimi. I’m not sure if Lewisohn is just downplaying her part in John’s life (since it is a book about The Beatles and not John), or maybe so much has already been written about her, or maybe no one close to Cynthia (including Cynthia) would talk to Lewisohn during his research. It’s a question I’d love to ask him.

Still, I can’t blame Mark for the faults in this book when I obviously took the easy way out and read the shorter version. Maybe all of my questions would be answered in the unedited edition. Maybe someday I’ll read it! LOL More likely, I’ll buy the audio version (if it’s ever made available). Never the less, this book is the bible for all Beatles fans and leaves me with one final question…why would anyone need to read another book about the Beatles after reading this one? And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Klaus Voormann – It Started in Hamburg” by Klaus Voormann

I took several hours away from reading a 900+ page book about the Beatles to read something new that showed up in my mailbox. Klaus Voormann It Started in HamburgIn April (in conjunction with Klaus Voormann’s 80th birthday), a pre-order for the Exclusive Signed Edition of Klaus Voormann – It Started in Hamburg became available, so I placed my order. Over this past weekend, it finally arrived! This book is only available through Klaus’ website. It’s listed for €39 ($45.19 or £34.49) + shipping. There’s also the Limited Deluxe Edition with a special contribution by Ringo but it’ll cost you €480,00, and well, most of us can’t afford one of the just 80 copies, so we’ll move on. This book was released on June 11, 2018.

It Started in Hamburg is what is commonly referred to as a ‘turnaround book’. One cover is in English and continues on in English as you turn the pages, but if you flip the book over, the cover is in German and you can read the same book in German. The book is a softcover that is a little over 8″ x 10″ and 224 pages long (only 113 pages for either German or English side). Also, being the Beatles freaks that I am, I’m going to save the packaging the book came in because it’s obvious from the signature on the declaration form, that Klaus himself mailed it.

This book is filled with over 200+ images of Klaus’ artwork. And though I would have preferred to have read about his life’s work in chronological order (he presents it in categories), the story is none the less very impressive. He’s done so much more than I ever imagined, including the producing of the song “DaDaDa” by Trio.

As I said earlier, this book is a turnaround book, but what makes it even more interesting is that after your done reading it in your preferred language is that when you turn the book over, even though the text is the same (but in a different language), the pictures are all different from the flip side. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

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Bonus Book Review: “The Cats Came Back” by Sofie Kelly

The cats came back sofie kellyI’m finally somewhat caught up on my First to Read books after posting this review (I have two more books on the docket, but the reviews aren’t due until August), so I’m going to pour myself back into my stack of Beatles books as soon as I step away from the keyboard today.

I guess I should have paid closer attention to the details of The Cats Came Back before signing up to review it. I didn’t realize that it was the 10th book in a series called A Magical Cats Mystery by Sofie Kelly. This would explain why I got so lost in some of the characters and their back stories. Still, it was an enjoyable read just like I had hoped it would be and provided me with a nice break from reading books about the Beatles and other biographies.

It’s always nice to dip into some light fiction and a couple of cats to take one away from the harsh realities of today’s world…and Hercules and Owen are just the cats to do it! Though, I get the impression that the fictional small town they live in has a very high crime rate if the author is on book ten.

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